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The Trinity (Guides to Theology)

, 2002
ISBN: 9780802848277

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The Trinity is an insightful guide to one of the core beliefs of the Christian faith, providing beginning theology readers with a basic knowledge of the doctrine of God's triune nature. Concise, practical, and up-to-date, this perceptive book offers a detailed historical and theological description of one of the central and most distinctive doctrines of the Christian Faith—the triune nature of God. Tracing its development from the first days of Christianity through the Medieval and Reformation Ages and into the Modern Age, special attention is given to early church controversies and church fathers as well as to its twentieth-century renaissance.

This survey examines the impact of such figures as Augustine, Anselm, and Richard St. Victor on Trinity theology and also covers some of the heresies committed by Abelard and Michael Severus. A discussion of the rise of Unitarianism and Deism is very astute and helps us to better understand the impact of these influences as Trinitarian thought matured. A must read for anyone remotely interested in the Trinity, and although simple, it is not simplistic. In this work, Olson and Hall start from the beginning of the Trinitarian debates and lead you on an amazing ride through history as new thoughts on this essential doctrine were developed. In the book’s second part, three of the finest contributors to the contemporary Trinitarian renaissance are presented. Leonardo Boff (Trinity and Society), Catherine Mowry LaCugna (God for US: The Trinity and Christian Life), and John D. Zizioulas (Being as Communion: Studies in Personhood and the Church) have each argued a similar thesis with distinct emphasis: that the Doctrine of the Trinity expresses not metaphysical mumbo-jumbo, but “the mystery of salvation”.

The third part of this helpful work contains a detailed, annotated bibliography of most of the major books written about the Trinity, including patristic contributions from early Anti-Nicene, Alexandrian, and Latin sources, and from key eastern figures from the Age of Nicea and beyond. Also featured are medieval, reformation and post-reformation resources as well as contributions from the twentieth-century renaissance.

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Top Highlights

“According to the church father Augustine anyone who denies the Trinity is in danger of losing her salvation, but anyone who tries to understand the Trinity is in danger of losing her mind.” (Page 1)

“They said that God is one ousia and three hypostaseisone being or substance (sharing essential qualities equally) and three subsistences or persons (distinct in relations over against one another as well as distinct in missions in relation to the world).” (Page 3)

“There is a beauty in the concept of the Trinity itself that points toward the beauty of God himself. It is the beauty of love reflected in a truth: God is love. Whom did he love before there was a world? Himself—within the fellowship of three mutually loving persons. The Trinity thus becomes a model of creaturely love and fellowship.4 In the end, it is not an esoteric idea but a supremely practical doctrine for the guidance of Christian life and thought.” (Page 4)

“Twentieth-century Swiss theologian Emil Brunner was correct in averring that the doctrine of the Trinity is at least a ‘defensive doctrine.’1 It may not be clearly communicated in original divine revelation, but it is so clearly implied by all that Scripture says and by the logic of the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ that it is a necessary implication of and protective concept of the Christian gospel itself. To think about all that divine revelation says about God—including the sending of God’s Son Jesus Christ and the unity of God as ‘one God’ and the mission of the Holy Spirit in the world and the church—is to be forced in the direction of the doctrine of the Trinity. And one arrives at that doctrine as soon as one realizes the flaws in all non-trinitarian accounts of God.” (Pages 1–2)

The Trinity, with its detailed attention to the historical development of the doctrine, is a wonderful corrective to the theological illiteracy that continues to ail too many North American churches (and some seminaries!). Students will find the detailed annotated bibliography of key primary and secondary sources of special value.

—Kevin Vanhoozer, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

The writing is clear, succinct, and pleasurable to read. . . This is a very worthwhile introduction to the doctrine of the Trinity.


Hall and Olson have constructed an engaging historical survey of the doctrine of the Christian Godhead most helpful for the classroom and for curious readers. What it does, it does well, with reasonable balance and charm. The annotated bibliography alone makes the book worth buying.

Bibliotheca Sacra

  • Title: The Trinity (Guides to Theology)
  • Authors: Roger Olson, Christopher A. Hall
  • Series: Guides to Theology
  • Publisher: Eerdmans
  • Print Publication Date: 2002
  • Logos Release Date: 2008
  • Pages: 158
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subject: Trinity › History of doctrines
  • ISBNs: 9780802848277, 0802848273
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2022-10-19T16:06:31Z

Dr. Roger E. Olson is professor of theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University and has been on the faculty since 1999, specializing in historical theology. Olson holds degrees from Rice University, North American Baptist Seminary and Open Bible College. He is an award-winning writer with numerous books and articles to his credit, and he also served as the editor of Christian Scholar's Review.

Christopher A. Hall is dean of the Templeton Honors College at Eastern University (St. Davids, PA), where he has been teaching in the biblical and theological studies program. He is also associate editor of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. He has served in the pastorate overseas and in Canada and also served as Director of Pastoral Care at New Jersey's only state geropsychiatric hospital. Hall has ministered in Asia, Africa, South America, Europe, the Middle-East, Canada, and the United States.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition


3 ratings

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  1. Matlyn Collins
  2. Lee Adams

    Lee Adams


  3. Glenn Crouch

    Glenn Crouch


    This small book on the Trinity does quite a good job of explaining the theology behind the Trinity by examining how the concept was handled (or mishandled) throughout the centuries. I enjoy Church History, so I did enjoy this approach - and probably not a bad way to introduce many of the key players throughout Church History... This is not the short book you would pick up if you wanted to learn about the Trinity; rather it is if you want to learn about what was thought about the Trinity. I just think it could be a bit misleading for some. One of the big pluses is an extensive Bibliography - which is often missing from shorter works...


Digital list price: $20.99
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